June 30, 2010

A pilgrim's journal heads homeward

The Korea Times reports that the 8th century travel journal of Hyecho, a Korean Buddhist monk from the kingdom of Silla, will be sent from the National Library of France to the National Museum of Korea in Seoul to be on exhibition for the first time ever this December.

Wang Ocheonchukguk Jeon, which means “The Memoir of the Pilgrimage to the Five Kingdoms of India,” was written in 727 as an account of Hyecho’s four-year pilgrimage across India and neighboring regions. The journal consists of 5,893 classical Chinese characters (the lingua franca of East Asia at that time) in 227 lines. It’s widely regarded as one of the oldest and most important historical travel journals in human history as it provides insight into the political, cultural, and economic customs of India in those days.

The text ended up in France after French explorer Paul Pelliot purchased it on the Silk Road in China in 1908. Though it’s sure to be sent back to France after the “Silk Road and Dunhuang” exhibit is finished, it’s good to see a pilgrim’s journal return home, if just for a short visit.

Read more here.

Image: Yohap News Agency

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Doug's picture

This is very interesting indeed. There's so much lost history regarding the interaction between East Asia and India when Buddhism was still thriving there. Xuanzang's contributions to Buddhism are immense after making a similar journey, and Korean Buddhism is often overlooked in general

Great article, thanks,
Doug